The Thunder needed Russell Westbrook to play all 48 minutes of Tuesday’s first-round playoff game against the Rockets.
He played 42 minutes, and rested for the first three minutes of the fourth quarter. The Thunder held a three-point lead after three quarters. By the time Westbrook returned, the Thunder were down by five and never recovered in a 105-99 Rockets victory.
With the win, the Rockets eliminated the Thunder from the playoffs with a 4-1 series victory.
Westbrook’s historic season, with an NBA-record 42 triple-doubles and becoming the first player since Oscar Robertson in the 1961-62 season to average a triple-double, came to an end with another bit of statistical history. With his 47 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists on Tuesday, Westbrook became the first player in NBA history to have at least 150 points, 50 rebounds and 50 assists through the first five games of a playoff series.
Houston’s James Harden, Westbrook’s main competitor for NBA MVP, scored 34 points with eight rebounds and four assists to lead the Rockets, who await the winner of the Grizzlies-Spurs series. The Spurs took a 3-2 series lead with Tuesday’s 116-103 victory.
If Lowry does decide to go West, the best spot for him would be the Spurs. With 35-year-old Tony Parker (who was just injured in the playoffs) at the helm, San Antonio could look to go younger with Lowry, 31. He’d join one of the best players in the league (Kawhi Leonard), and make San Antonio a strong enemy of the Warriors. But money could be tight in San Antonio, making it a difficult decision.